Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Where Are the Dixie Chicks?

I believe the tweet is pretty much not a metaphor, but a literal description. I also think parakeets have very little to tell us about winning strategies in chess, or foreign policy, or economics, even if it is true as Jackie Onassis told Daryl Hannah that criticism in print can be ignored because the next day it ends up on the floor of the bird cage. So we still have a president with the mind of a parakeet. I knew a parakeet once, when I was a kid. His owners called him Keats. He flew around their house at will and was friends with their two tiny lapdogs, and lived a very long time. His owners were my aunt and uncle, Libby and Ed. Aunt Libby played piano and gave a try at teaching me, which didn't take. Violin was "my instrument." She also introduced me to rural southern blues by giving me an LP of a guy named Pink Anderson. Later, she and I went to the Bob Dylan concert at Reynolds Coliseum on the NC State campus, where we discovered that Reynolds, so delightful for the Dixie Classic basketball tournament, was acoustically not so much.

Not long before that Dylan concert I recall the rather remarkable appearance of Nikita Khruschev at the United Nations, where he took off his shoe and beat it on the podium, and said (in our translation) "We will bury you." This was understood to be a prediction and a metaphor for the titanic clash of organizational theories we used to call Communism and Capitalism. On the field, as usual, it was simply about struggling to survive. It was also understood to be a breach of diplomatic decorum, and proof that the Soviet revolutionaries were still uncouth, just like Stalin. After all, they killed Trotsky in Mexico with an ice axe.

Mr. Trump yesterday complained about all the bad deals the US has made. He claimed that the Iran Nuclear Agreement was the worst ever. I wondered if he'd just forgotten, or never learned of, a couple of bad deals we made in earlier times: there was the Louisiana Purchase, which Thomas Jefferson, notable slave owner and "race mixer" had pulled off, totally screwing France, and there was Seward's Folly, the purchase of Alaska just after the Civil War, which totally screwed Russia. A bad deal is a bad deal ain't it. That's just math. In Trump's zero-sum world, one party always gets the shaft. This is precisely why North Korea will hold on to its nuclear weapons. Trump lives in Deadwood.

Lawrence O'Donnell made the deepest point about the speech last night. Mr. Trump wants to somehow bring North Korea to negotiations in one paragraph, yet down the page a few moments and he wants to break a negotiated agreement with Iran, thus confirming North Korea's deepest suspicions. Their translators continue to puzzle over the Elton John reference. See Osnos's New Yorker article if you want to be more afraid.

We have, therefore, no foreign policy. Just the sad tweets of a parakeet who's flown out the window and is utterly lost.

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